Hartlepool councillors asked to refuse pay rise

Councillors will be formally asked to turn down a pay rise as more members say they will refuse to accept it.

Eight Hartlepool Borough councillors are backing a motion calling for their colleagues to refuse a planned 2.2 per cent increase in their basic allowance.

The objectors say they do not deserve a rise – linked to an agreed 2.2 per cent wage increase for council staff – and believe the money should go towards supporting services.

But the council’s deputy leader says the increase is lower than what was originally proposed and will be the lowest basic allowance in the whole region.

It was previously reported that councillors Jonathan Brash and Pamela Hargreaves, who refer to themselves as Independent Labour but are classed as Independent on the council’s website, did not want the increase from £5,825 to £5,953.

They have been joined by independent Paul Thompson and all Putting Hartlepool First councillors Geoff Lilley, David Riddle, Steve Gibbon and Keith Dawkins.

Coun Riddle said:

“Certain councillors fail to recognise that the reputation of many of our elected councillors has never been lower.

“If we accept this rise it’ll be like a red rag to a bull, it’s like waving two fingers at the public, I want no part of it.”

Councillor Thompson added:

“In July I stated it was abhorrent we were even thinking about any increase especially in the current climate. I stand by that statement, it was abhorrent then and it’s still abhorrent now.”

The rise in councillor allowances was recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel and was discussed by the full council last July.

A Labour-backed amendment said any rise should be in line with that given to council staff which has since been agreed at Government level.

The motion, which will go before the next full council meeting on Thursday, February 5, states:

“Voting to equate our work and remuneration to that of council staff was ill-judged and wrong.

“They deserve the pay rise and we do not. We therefore call upon all councillors to forgo the 2.2 per cent increase in their allowance, so that the money can go toward supporting services here in Hartlepool.”

Coun Brash said:

“It is important for democracy that the public is fully aware what their politicians are doing.

“Either they think they deserve a pay rise or simply don’t.

“I personally think in the current climate with all the difficulties our residents are going through, to give ourselves a pay rise is totally wrong.”

Deputy council leader Councillor Carl Richardson said:

“The council has received this motion and it will go before the full council at its meeting on February 5.

“As I have said previously, Hartlepool councillors received no increase in their Basic Allowance for four years from 2009/10 to 2012/13 and the full council last year rejected the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendation that the Basic Allowance should be increased each year, which would have meant a figure of £6,517 for 2015/16.

“Instead, it agreed an amendment put forward by the Labour Group that councillors should stick to a previous 2013 resolution that they should only receive an increase in their basic allowance in line with any pay increase received by council employees from the Government, as and when that occurred.

“The current increase, which will be payable from January 1, 2015 and will be fixed for 2015/16, will take the councillors’ basic allowance from £5,825 to £5,953.

“It means Hartlepool will still have the lowest councillors’ basic allowance in the North-East – significantly less than the North-East average of £8,965 and way below the highest allowance in the region of £13,300.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  24 Jan 2015

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